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"Michigan men with passenger info, phones linked to terror"
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Pair with passenger info, phones linked to terror
The Associated Press
MARIETTA, Ohio (AP) - Investigators in southeast Ohio said they were working
to unravel how two Michigan men charged with supporting terrorism came to
have airplane passenger lists and airport security information.
Osama Sabhi Abulhassan, 20, and Ali Houssaiky, 20, both of the Detroit
suburb of Dearborn, were being held at the Washington County jail on
$200,000 bond each, which could be raised at a Thursday afternoon court
hearing. Each was charged Wednesday with money laundering in support of
Deputies stopped the two on a traffic violation Tuesday and found the flight
documents along with $11,000 cash and 12 phones in their car, Sheriff Larry
It wasn't clear what significance the airline information might have.
Assistant County Prosecutor Susan Vessels declined to comment on whether the
manifests were for upcoming flights or those that already had flown. She
also would not give the origin or destination of the flight or flights.
FBI spokesman Mike Brooks in Cincinnati said federal agents were in contact
with Washington County authorities. He said at this point he knew of no
connection between the case and the alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound
planes that British authorities say they have thwarted.
Abulhassan and Houssaiky admitted buying about 600 phones in recent months
at stores in southeast Ohio, said sheriff's Maj. John Winstanley. They sold
the phones to someone in Dearborn, Winstanley said.
Vessels declined to say how the phones, cash or flight information involved
Investigators going through the car after the pair were pulled over in
Marietta also found a map that showed locations of Wal-Mart stores from Ohio
through Kentucky, Tennessee and into North and South Carolina, Vessels said.
"We got them at the beginning of their trip," she said.
Vessels did not say why the pair headed to southeast Ohio from Dearborn.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday evening with Ray Smith, a
public defender who represents Abulhassan. Houssaiky did not yet have an
attorney, Vessels said.
Houssaiky's family members said he and Abulhassan work in the cellphone
trade and were on a business trip, according to Imad Hamad, regional
director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, who
said he met with Houssaiky's relatives Wednesday.
"I hope this is a case where the government is not overreacting,
overreaching and over-reading," Hamad said. "This is sensitive and serious.
Nobody should rush to judgment."
At their brief court appearance Wednesday, the defendants did not address
the terror charges. Abulhassan said he is a junior at the University of
Michigan and Houssaiky said he is a student at Wayne State University.
The fourth-degree felony charges allege the two laundered between $5,000 and
$25,000, Vessels said. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 18 months
in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The men were charged Tuesday with obstructing official business. Winstanley
said they initially lied about why they bought the phones.
Those charges were dropped Wednesday when the money laundering charges were
Marietta, with about 14,000 people, is about 90 miles southeast of Columbus
and 12 miles northeast of Parkersburg, W.Va.
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